BackgroundCongenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) are the most common cause of chronic kidney diseases in children and young adults, accounting for ∼50% of cases. These anomalies represent maldevelopment of the genitourinary system and can be genetically explained in only 10-16% of cases by mutations or by copy number variations in protein coding sequences. Knock-out mouse models, lacking components of the microRNA (miRNA) processing machinery (i.e. Dicer, Drosha, Dgcr8), exhibit kidney malformations resembling human CAKUT. MethodsGiven the Dicer-null mouse phenotype, which implicates a central role for miRNAs gene regulation during kidney development, we hypothesized that miRNAs expressed during kidney development may cause CAKUT in humans if mutated. To evaluate this possibility we carried out Next-Generation sequencing of 96 stem-loop regions of 73 renal developmental miRNA genes in 1248 individuals with non-syndromic CAKUT from 980 families. ResultsWe sequenced 96 stem-loop regions encoded by 73 miRNA genes that are expressed during kidney development in humans, mice and rats. Overall, we identified in 31/1213 individuals from 26 families with 17 different single nucleotide variants. Two variants did not segregate with the disease and hence were not causative. Thirteen variants were likely benign variants because they occurred in control populations and/or they affected nucleotides of weak evolutionary conservation. Two out of 1213 unrelated individuals had potentially pathogenic variants with unknown biologic relevance affecting miRNAs MIR19B1 and MIR99A. ConclusionsOur results indicate that mutations affecting mature microRNAs in individuals with CAKUT are rare and thus most likely not a common cause of CAKUT in humans.